The Aardvark Speaks : essence, effervescence, obscurity. Established 2002. A weblog by Horst Prillinger. ISSN 1726-5320

January 17, 2005

No, it's not

Vienna title

Sometimes you notice that things are just not what the people on television would like you to believe.

For example, on this TV series that I've been indulging in lately (due to a Xmas present consisting of 12 DVDs of said series), they wanted me to believe that this is Vienna:

not Vienna

But obviously it's not. I'm not quite sure which city it is though, so any help would be appreciated. First I thought it was Amsterdam, but the tramway on the left would indicate otherwise. It looks a bit like a Tatra tram, so I suppose it could be somewhere in Eastern Europe.

Which poses the question if stock footage of Vienna is really so difficult to obtain. But then again, the picture below is supposed to be of Malaga, Spain, when in reality it's quite obviously Stockholm, Sweden, several hundreds of miles to the north:


And that would be even more off the mark.

But back to Vienna. Do you spot the obvious mistakes on the following pictures, which prove this was shot nowhere near Vienna?

Spot the mistakes - pic 1

Spot the mistakes - pic 2

Spot the mistakes - pic 3

Interestingly, as you can see on the penultimate picture, they got one minor detail right (which somebody on IMDb thought was an error, because they mistook one symbol for another). It's interesting to see though that people can get minor details right and goof up with the really big things.

Oh, and speaking German as these "CIA agents" do, they would fool nobody into believing they were natives. Contrary to real agents, for that matter. I heard David Cornwell (a.k.a. John Le Carré) speak German once, and his accent was next to undetectable.

But that's just a minor quibble. As it is, this series already demands a greater suspension of disbelief that others I've seen, so I suppose I can live with that. It's still enjoyable enough; still, if I were a bad guy on a TV show and had the choice of being beaten up by either Sydney Bristow or Emma Peel, I suppose I'd still pick Emma.

Posted by Horst on January 17, 2005 03:45 PM to reviews | Tell-a-friend

TH said on January 17, 2005 04:21 PM:

Will you at least tell us which series it is, so we can look for the errors ourselves?

P.S. Emma is out on DVD?

Horst said on January 17, 2005 04:31 PM:

1. Hey, there are more than enough hints in the text as to which series it is -- you really shouldn't have any problem to find it out.

2. The Avengers were released on DVD in the UK two years ago, but these don't seem to be available any longer. However, as the rights are currently with Canal Plus, seasons 2 through 6 (most episodes of season 1 were lost) are available on DVD in France and can be ordered from The Emma Peel episodes were seasons 4 and 5, so make sure you don't order the wrong ones (seasons 2 and 3 were the Cathy Gale episodes, and season 6 were the Tara King episodes).

nora said on January 17, 2005 10:46 PM:

gee, it took me a while, although the first pic was a clear giveaway. which season are you watching? i have started watching the current one, but yet have not gotten into it. the accent with which they are speaking german is really funny, i needed the subtitles to make out what they are saying.
anyway, traffic lights in vienna, if we remeber correctly, aren't yellow, and there are no sidewalks without dog poop.
the license plates seem to be viennese, though.
oh, and jack bauer is back ...

alf said on January 17, 2005 10:48 PM:

If you got them on DVD, then this must be an old season, because the new one just started 2 weeks ago here in the US. And the first show of the new season starts with Sydney Bristow getting fired from the CIA! Anyway, I can only agree that this is a cool series ;)

Talking about DVDs, I recently bought all of the old Avenger seasons on DVD for nora from, but they are Region 1 encoded....

But now back to the question re the mistakes in the photos: in addition to the recent submission by nora, I'd like to point out that the central dividing line in the street somehow doesn't look right - if this were Vienna, that line would be yellow, right?

Judging from the look on the first photo I would think it is Prague...

nora said on January 17, 2005 10:58 PM:

oh, and it is either season 1 epi 18, or season 2 epi 5. since they are in spain, i guess you are watching season 1.

Horst said on January 18, 2005 01:58 AM:

Thanks to EU regulations, dividing lines on the streets are now white in Vienna as well, so that would be non-revealing. You spotted two errors correctly though, but there are at least two more to go.

You sure about Prague? That river looks too narrow for Prague...

Btw, I've been watching seasons 1 and 2; season 3 hasn't been released on DVD in Europe yet. The Stockholm pic is from season 1, the "Vienna" footage is from season 2.

The accent with which they speak German really *is* a hoot -- I must put that dialogue from the sex club scene in Berlin online... I suppose you could call it sexy in a very twisted sort of way...

dieter said on January 18, 2005 02:41 PM:

@Nora, Jack Bauer in Vienna. That would be a laugh for sure. Apart from that I am really annoyed by that punk.

@Horst, how on earth could you indulge in watching Alias?
To give away a few guessings: The traffic lights are definitely not Austrian. You would not expect the trees in the streets to be cut that way, and the lamp pole with the square base also looks rather unusual. But that again is a detail. The stairs leading to the main entry is something I do not remember having seen in Vienna. There are no shops or shop ads in sight. The architecture is somewhat unusual in general, definitely not Gruenderzeit, but not Viennese at all?

Still, what amused me most so far is the representation of Moscow in "Firefox". Iron curtain helping a lot *that* actually was Vienna. At least many parts of it.

Horst said on January 18, 2005 03:23 PM:

What do you mean, how could I indulge in watching "Alias"? It's not all that bad, although I must admit all those last-minute rescues do become a bit unrealistic after a while.

As for correct answers so far:

no yellow traffic lights in Viennahardly any lampposts in Vienna, and the few there are don't look like thishardly any red brick buildings in Vienna, certainly not three in the same street (I hadn't thought of this, but it's correct)

I think I'll also accept the dog poop answer as correct. As for the trees and stairs, however, it's probably right, but that seems to be a very minor detail.

The really weird thing is that they *did* the car licence plates correctly (the person at IMDb who thought they were wrong had falsely identified the Viennese coat of arms as a Swiss flag).

Still at least two or three things missing, though.

Hm... so nobody can identify the city on the second picture? Here's a larger version. I'm at quite a loss here. Stockholm was much easier to identify, even though it's only a silhouette.

Richard said on January 18, 2005 06:11 PM:

I also think it's Prague (check out the lampposts on this picture). And another odd thing about the "Vienna" pictures is that there are no parked cars in the street. That would be impossible in real Vienna.

scott partee said on January 18, 2005 09:31 PM:

oooh! This is fun. I agree that the scale in the first picture would suggest Amsterdam, but the architecture and the tram seem not very Dutch. The tram actually looks like one of the older Budapest trams, but I can't think of anywhere in Budapest where the river is this narrow. Perhaps there is a canal or two in Budapest?

I'm going to see if I can Google up an answer if I can get a minute. Anything to distract me from work!

Dieter Henkel said on January 18, 2005 11:01 PM:

Yes, it's Prague - looks like it's close to the national theater, filmed from most Legii towards the south. See - you'll recognize the building with the spire. There's a small island with a bridge there, which explains the narrow river at this point.

The tram would be line 17 or 21 then, by the way... :-)

nora said on January 19, 2005 12:05 AM:

re dieter: jack bauer isn't back in vienna, he's back on fox, monday night.
the stockholm-malaga goof is mentioned on imdb! i've been watching a bbc mystery on pbs, they are very careful with their german props and dialogues!
oh, and do you get boston legal ?

TH said on January 19, 2005 01:24 AM:

Arrgh. I'm definitely out of touch with anything running on TV.

I had to look up Alias to find out what kind of show it was. (But then, Babylon 5 is still current TV for me).

And I had seen the Avengers only on VHS previously, so I'm grateful for the pointer, even if I can't afford them at the moment.

(Oh, and if you think movie versions of bavarian or austrian scenes are bad, never look at comics ostensibly playing around here)

scott partee said on January 20, 2005 03:42 PM:

Indeed it is Prague! Awesome detective work, yo!

Comments have been closed for this entry.

© Copyright 2002-2008 Horst Prillinger, 

Most of the stuff on this page is fiction. Everything else is my private opinion. Please read the disclaimer.

Valid XHTML 1.0! Powered by Movable Type Made with a Mac